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Kerry Says US Relations With Pakistan at Critical Moment

US Senator John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 15, 2011
US Senator John Kerry in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 15, 2011

With relations between Pakistan and the United States in a deep rift following the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, U.S. Senator John Kerry traveled to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani authorities.  

Senator Kerry expanded his originally scheduled trip to Afghanistan this week to include a visit to Pakistan as U.S.-Pakistani relations continue to slide in the aftermath of the May 2nd U.S. Special Forces Raid to kill Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai before leaving for Pakistan, Senator Kerry said this is a vital moment in the long-standing relationship between the two countries. "This is a critical moment in terms of the relationship with Pakistan.  It is fair say that some of my colleagues in the House and Senate have deep reservations about whether or not Pakistan is committed with the same goals or prepared to be a full partner in pursuing those goals, and there are calls in some quarters in Congress for a shift in the aid program unless there is an improvement in the current situation," he said.

Senator Kerry is the co-author of a bill authorizing The United States to grant $1.5 billion in non-military aid annually to Pakistan.

The United States gives an estimated $3 billion to Pakistan each year.

Because Bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan in the middle of a town filled with Pakistani military facilities, there is widespread criticism that Pakistan is either not aggressive enough in hunting down terrorists or that Pakistani authorities are complicit in providing extremists safe haven.  Pakistan's leadership has denied the claim.

In Pakistan there has been significant outrage in government, the military and the public over what is seen as a breech in the nation's sovereignty by the raid.

A recent statement from the Pakistani parliament demanded U.S. military action in Pakistan halt, especially unmanned drone strikes in the frontier territories.  It warned that Pakistan could deny supply routes to international forces fighting in Afghanistan if the drones are not stopped.

Many U.S. officials say that any end to the war in Afghanistan in the near future will only be possible with the participation of Pakistan.  

Also in Pakistan, thousands gathered Sunday to express anger at America and called for the Islamabad government to break with Washington.  But Pakistan's reliance on international aid, especially American, is vital to the economically troubled nation's ability to function.

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